Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Revealed: What happened during the minutes of mayhem that led to referee Clattenburg facing racist abuse claims
Chelsea had made a stand, wearing Kick It Out’s ‘One Game One Community’ T-shirts before one of the most prestigious fixtures in the Barclays Premier League.
It was a fresh start, with handshakes all round and an anti-racism badge pinned to John Terry’s jacket on the sidelines as he continued to serve a four-match ban for insulting Anton Ferdinand.
What followed is in danger of dragging the game back into the gutter, sparking bitter recrimination and — for the first time in the professional game’s history in England — an allegation of racism against a referee.
Mikel responded after team-mates David Luiz and Ramires told him they believed he had been racially abused by the FIFA official moments after he was booked at Stamford Bridge.
Now Sportsmail can reveal details of the dialogue that is alleged to have taken place between Mikel and Clattenburg that led to the 76th-minute incident which the Chelsea players claim to have heard.
Mikel did not hear the alleged abuse, but Ramires and Luiz are prepared to make statements saying they did.
In the explosive scenes that followed the final whistle, Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo and chief executive Ron Gourlay had to stop Mikel attacking Clattenburg during the confrontation.
Heated conversations between Mikel and the referee had begun when Fernando Torres was sent off after being booked for ‘aggressive simulation’.
The central midfielder continued to cross swords with Clattenburg during the next few frantic minutes as he demanded an explanation for the decision.
Mikel wanted to know why Torres had been booked for a second time when Chelsea’s players were convinced he had been caught by Jonny Evans on his way through on goal in the 68th minute. When Clattenburg told Mikel to keep quiet and to get on with the game, the Nigeria midfielder continued to protest.
It is understood the player used words to the effect of: ‘Why can’t we stand up for ourselves, why can’t we challenge your decisions?’
The dismissal of Torres had reduced Chelsea to nine men, coming on top of the 63rd-minute red card for Branislav Ivanovic, and emotions were running high.
When Torres was sent off, Di Matteo and Sir Alex Ferguson clashed on the touchline as coaching staff from both clubs spilled into the technical area. Clattenburg appeared to have the game under control again until the moment Javier Hernandez scored United’s winner from an offside position in the 75th minute.